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City celebrates artists, local vendors with ‘Cultural Chaos’

  • Caitlyn Robbins of Holyoke, left, and her daughter Sophia Patel, 4, create a custom succulent garden at the I Do Flowers booth Saturday at Cultural Chaos. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Allison McDermott of SHOW Circus Studio, center, greets visitors while walking on stilts during the fifth annual Cultural Chaos block party, hosted by Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District in Easthampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Rob Chaplin of Ware holds his grandson Mason Pantano, 2, while they meet "Rue," a pet Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor owned by Kelsey Cropp of Easthampton June 9, 2018 during the fifth annual Cultural Chaos block party hosted by Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Caitlyn Robbins of Holyoke, left, and her daughter Sophia Patel, 4, create a custom succulent garden at the i do flowers booth June 9, 2018 during the fifth annual Cultural Chaos block party hosted by Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Matthew Li, 7, of Northampton, meets "Rue," a pet Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor owned and held by Kelsey Cropp of Easthampton June 9, 2018 during the fifth annual Cultural Chaos block party hosted by Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



Staff Writer
Sunday, June 10, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — The blaring of a golden trombone, a snapping, rapping snare drum, and a jubilant melodica made their way down Cottage Street playing “When The Saints Go Marching In,” exuding the festival spirit of the Cultural Chaos block party.

The New Orleans style brass band Krewe Les Gras were just a small part of the larger chaos blending in with the wafting scents of grilled hamburgers, brightly colored stilt walkers, face painting artists, local print makers, psychic readers, and even fitness demonstrations on display this past Saturday. Thousands flocked to the city’s narrow corridor to celebrate Easthampton and the rich culture embedded within the community.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle welcomed residents and visitors alike by Nashawannuck Pond to kick off the fifth annual celebration hosted by the Easthampton City Arts and organized by the Cottage Street Cultural District.

By the western end of Cottage Street, Easthampton High School students set up a table filled with photos of their favorite local spots and wrote love letters to show their appreciation for the city as part of the Youth Arts Initiative, a pilot program through City Arts.

“It’s an awesome opportunity to put people’s personal connection to Easthampton and to show all the different places that people find a connection with,” said Olivia Duran, a sophomore at EHS.

Images captured by students of Eileen Claveloux’s graphics class ranged from Nashawannuck Pond, Mount Tom, backyards of their homes, and other serene scenes from places where students felt inspired. The accompanying love letters were penned by hand, describing the author’s affection for their chosen place.

“You hold not only so many memories close to my heart but also helped remind me of the ones that have drifted apart,” read one letter dedicated to Nashawannuck Pond. “The sight of you is admirable, something I quite adore. All I wonder is what else is in store?”

Further down the road, Off the Map Tattoos were applying temporary tattoos to grinning children admiring their new ink. Record collectors and music aficionados peered through rows of vintage vinyls outside of Platterpus Records. Small children dressed in protective fencing gear and masks sparred with thin dueling swords outside of the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy.

A fitness challenge hosted by CrossFit Stronger Than Yesterday put athletes to the test with push ups, sit ups, and heavy weigh lifting as bemused Brass Cat patrons wearing sunglasses looked on from across the street, sipping on crafts beers and ice cold cocktails.

Easthampton artists were also on display at #LOCAL by Cider House at 40 Cottage St. This newly opened “art gallery with a twist” celebrated the city’s painters and craftspeople with its second show since opening last month. The owners of Cider House Media, Lennie and Elizabeth Appelquist, recently opened their second location at the former Nash Gallery with the intention of hosting multi-purpose events along with art shows.

“We are expanding out footprint but the best thing about it is we’ve always been very supportive of local artists and we just wanted to keep that going,” said Elizabeth. “We are trying to make it a local experience.”

The block party wrapped up with the Easthampton Art Walk, a monthly showcase of galleries, restaurants and small businesses.